Tenn. DOC offering bonuses to add, keep COs

There are currently 858 correctional officer vacancies statewide

By Sarah Sinning

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Department of Corrections is offering a series of bonuses to correctional officers in an effort to improve a substantial staffing shortage.

With 858 vacancies statewide, up from around 700 six months ago, TDOC hopes the initiative will provide the necessary incentive to not only recruit new staff, but also retain those currently employed. The department lost about a third of its officers in the most recent fiscal year, WKYU reports

“One of the most important functions of any organization is a commitment to recruiting and retaining employees,” Commissioner Tony Parker said in a statement. "Filling vacant positions is a challenge faced by law enforcement agencies across the country. Still, we recognize that we must find creative solutions to ensure that we continue to meet our mission of operating safe and secure prisons and providing effective community supervision in order to enhance public safety.”

Previous recruitment efforts have included promotional videos, virtual job fairs, streamlining the online application process, and a 2019 pay increase, though the typical starting salary for Tennessee correctional officers is still lower than many of its competitors.

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